Objective: See 3 baseball games in 3 ballparks in 5 days.
Tools Needed: MegaBus, adaptability, willingness to cheer for teams you know little to nothing about, love for the game
Standards Met: None as this isn’t a math lesson
Ballpark #1 – PNC Park, Pittsburgh, PA, home of the Pirates
Overall Impression: Wow. Pretty sure that is the first thing I said when I saw the park as we came into town on the MegaBus. It’s location is probably the best I’ve been to. Newer park, open view of downtown Pittsburgh and Robert Clemente bridge. Very picturesque. Fans were very friendly and into the game. It was a big game against the Cardinals (Pirates won) and there was a large turnout for a Monday evening game.
Food: My normal routine is to get a hotdog the first time I visit a ballpark. I have to say, theirs looked dreadful and instead I got a bbq pork sandwich from behind the outfield. Sandwich was definitely a good pick.
Seats: We sat in nosebleed by 3rd base. And when I say nosebleed, I mean row S and it went up to row Z. When we got to our section, the usher sprayed our seats and wiped them off for us! Talk about service for the cheap seats! I’ve never even had that for premium seats. I have a feeling this is a park with no or few bad seats. The steepness means you still feel up close to the action. We also went early for batting practice and sat in the right outfield. Excellent seats because the warning track is so shallow. The seats are RIGHTTHEREINTHEACTION. Oh, one bummer, 3rd deck doesn’t have cup holders.
Ballpark #2 – Citizens Bank Park, Philadelphia, PA, home of the Phillies
Overall Impression: Disappointed. We had heard great things about this park and the fans. When I heard it was in the sports stadium area of Philly (Football, Basketball, and Hockey are also across the street), I was anticipating that they had turned into a cool sports themed area. That expectation was not met. The outside of the park itself is just not impressive walking up. The ambiance felt wrong. The fans seemed more interested in everything BUT the game and it was a close game with the Phillies ahead. Music played between innings was too boring and slow most of the time. And, I expected more from the Phillie Phanatic. One of the new parks, pretty, yada, yada, but definitely not high on my list as there are plenty of prettier parks with better fans. Too commercial. When a player was up to bat, a big ad was right next to his face instead of having his stats right with him. Lame. We left at the 7th inning stretch and couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Neither hubby nor I have any desire to return.
Food: Again broke hotdog routine here because I figured I’d get my first ever Philly cheesesteak. We asked some guys who worked in the park where to eat and they said John Luke’s. Eh. It was barely passable. I didn’t even eat half of it – which it’s huge and definitely enough for two people.
Seats: We were again in nosebleed, but first row this time. Plenty of legroom and cup holders drilled into the cement wall in front of us. We were on the 3rd base side, but more outfield. The view from our seats were not as good as Pittsburgh. We couldn’t see where a homerun went out below us. Otherwise, not bad seats and you do feel close again because of the steepness.
Ballpark #3 Orioles Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, home of the Orioles
Overall Impression: We stepped off the MARC train from DC and just stared agape at the big brick wall. It was impressive. As we walked closer, there was an excitement about what we might find around that wall! The entrance area around the corner was filled with statues of players, the music was pumping, and I couldn’t wait to get into the park. It exuded energy and came across as a place where one would have a great time. After entering the gates, we walked down Utah street where there are shops and restaurants. I got over the fact that I would be cheering for a team in orange and black which was weird since I hate, hate, hate the vile Giants. This stadium instantly became my favorite, replacing the St. Louis Cardinals park as #1. They played great music before the game and between innings. Excellent fans. Everyone around us was into the game and clearly were big fans of the O’s. Loved during the Star Spangled Banner when everyone yelled “Oh!” Very friendly people. Got to see Roberto Alomar inducted into Orioles hall of fame. The game was excellent, saw a grand slam AND an instant replay call. First time at a game where instant replay was used. Would love to come back to this park and is a must see for baseball fans.
Side note: the park is now #1, but the fans in St. Louis are still #1. O’s fans were impressive, but none have beat Cardinals fans for me.
Side note #2: If you are coming from D.C., getting back after a night game is a pain in the rear end. I say take the light rail to Penn Station in Baltimore and then get on the Amtrak. Bummer is we had to leave the game a little early and then, of course, Amtrak was an hour late.
Food: I went back to my traditional hot dog here. I got the jumbo dog. It was pretty good. Hubby had heard about the dog with mac & cheese and crab. However, the stand had not one person in line, which didn’t send us a good message. Instead he got a bbq sandwich at Boog’s – loved it and said it was the place to go for food at an Orioles game.
Seats: 3rd deck again. 2nd row, 3rd base. Excellent view of the game. Pretty sure this is also a park that has no bad views. Feels very intimate, like Pittsburgh. No cupholders in the nosebleed. Dude cleaned our seats here too.
Even with Philly being a disappointment, we still loved the experience and are eager to plan our next baseball trip. I think next up will be Boston and maybe the two New York teams.